Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Our trip to Bologna & Italian cooking

Mr M won a trip to Bologna last year from TNT magazine, the company (Ponti's Italian Kitchen) were kind enough to let us take the trip this year due to the fact I was pregnant last year. 

We knew that our trip would include a cooking lesson, a visit to a Paresan maker and a Balsamic vinegar maker but other than that we weren't really sure what to expect.

We were a little anxious about leaving Baby M but he loves my mum and we knew he'd be in good hands. 

Our trip was with Bluone Tours and the lovely Marcello and Raffaella.  We were collected by Marcello at the airport and taken to our hotel to freshen up.  We then went straight to our cooking lesson.  Our timetable for the weekend had changed slightly due to the Parmesan maker's daughter getting married and also Marcell and Raffaella's youngest son has a rare for of Leukemia and was coming out of hospital after failed chemotherapy treatment.  The day we arrived friends of the family had raised $600k for him to go to USA for treatment in a week - a pretty amazing feat!!

Our cooking lesson was at the family home, we were expecting to be in a restaurant with other people so this intimate lesson was great. 

In total we had 5.5 hours cooking and eating.

We started making the ragu (spaghetti bolognese doesn't exist in Bologna)

Whilst Mr M was making the ragu I was making the pana cotta

We next made meat rolls

Next we made the ricotta filling for the tortellini

We then cut up courgettes as these would be cooked as a side for the meat rolls

Then we made an appetizer of courgette flowers dipped in a batter containing olive oil and grappa - so tasty!!

We had some prosecco before our meal - I love prosecco!

After we ate our courgette flowers we started making our pasta.

You need to make sure your pasta is rolled equally and thin

With Mr M's pasta we made tortellini, with mine we made the tagliatelle for the ragu

In between the pasta courses we had the meat rolls.

We were so grateful to the family for welcoming us into their home.  We had an amazing evening and learned so much!

The next morning we went to a Parmesan maker, we saw the process from start to finish - it was incredible that within an hour the cheese had formed.  The cheese was then placed in salty water for 20days then put in storage to be tested in a years time to see whether it reaches the grade of Parmesan cheese. 

We bought some cheese to bring home with us.

Next we went to a Balsamic vinegar producer.  I quite like Balsamic here but it's nothing like the real stuff!  Balsamic vinegar can only be called this once it's been fermenting for 12 years - anything less than this isn't traditional balsamic vinegar.  It's made a little like wine however the casks have a hole in them so air gets in and alcohol isn't formed.  White grapes can also be used, its the wood from the cask that turn the balsamic vinegar the dark colour.  I found this visit fascinating and of course bought a bottle to bring home

We then had free time for the day and we spent time exploring Bologna.  We walked up the tallest leaning tower in Italy that you can walk up - 498 steps.  Amazing views though

The next day we met Raffaella to walk around the food markets.  We tasted some lovely meats and cheese

The rest of the weekend we had free.

The weather was amazing.  The food and drink was incredible.  The people were so friendly

I would definitely recommend putting Bologna on your "to visit" list!!


 Disclaimer:Mr M won this competition last year before I started blogging.  At no time was a review/blog post offered.